A Tsunami of Movement

Min Chao
6 min readFeb 11, 2021


This is the script for Season 2, Episode 18 of “小鬼登島 In Training” from Ghost Island Media, a fabulous podcast company based in Taiwan.

Episode debuts on Feb. 19, 2021!

Listen here:


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Episode title inspired by the poem, “a tsunami of movement — mihi to the peoples of the Pacific” by writer-activist Anahera Gildea (Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-Tonga).

<記憶中的歡樂之歌 Recalling the Songs of Joy and Merriment>

[Act I: The Migration]

Did you know that one of the largest prehistoric human migrations across the world started from Taiwan?

4,000 years ago, when the ancestors of today’s Taiwanese Indigenous peoples first sailed the high seas, their canoes and rafts served as arks, transporting a careful selection of plants and animals essential to their survival in distant lands.

<大社部落老人家演唱 — 郭悅製作>

Island-hopping in a non-linear fashion, they ventured outward — onto the Philippines and past Southeast Asia; eastward to Guam, Micronesia, Polynesia; following the stars to New Zealand, Hawaii, Easter Island.

Waves of interconnected migrations. Overlapping and overlaying of cultures. Some in succession and others separated by generations. Drawn by the promise of new resources. Driven away by old enemies. Drenched in desire for social status and prestige. All in search of new horizons.

They set off armed with their mythologies, ancestral wisdom, and lineage loyalties. Bottle gourd, taro, and yam. Bamboo, betel nuts, and hemp. 豐田 jade, mined from the east coast of Taiwan. Paper mulberry trees for cloth, fiber, art. (Chung)

Remote atolls became supply stops, colonies, safe havens, ritual space. A veritable fleet of islands connected by trade, marriage, and interpersonal ties. Symbols sanctifying these unions were carried forth on progressive waves of migration.

They are now recognized as the Austronesian-speaking peoples, a far-flung network of populations bonded by their linguistic heritage and cultural practices, and Taiwan is widely regarded as their ancestral homeland.

Hunters, navigators, explorers. Growers of communities. Weavers of cultures. People of the seas, mountains, cities. A tsunami of movement.

Today we celebrate this Austronesian connection through select poetry readings and music by Indigenous artists from Taiwan and New Zealand, curated from a literary journal titled “ORA NUI4” that delve into the shared experiences and hope of these two island nations tied together by this history of migration:

[Act II: The Poetry]

Poem <Ancient Pathways> by Teoti Jardine

Teoti Jardine is Māori, Irish and Scottish. His tribal affiliations are to Waitaha, Kati Māmoe and Kai Tahu. His poetry has been published in the Christchurch Press, London Grip, Te Karaka, Ora Nui, Catalyst, JAAM and Aotearotica Vol 3. He and his dog Amie live in Riverton on the beautiful southern coast of New Zealand.

Trees were chosen, each waka’s

kaitiaki and destination carved

into ihu and rapa.

Amid tears and farewell karakia

they set sail, knowing they’d

not return.

Guided by the stars, whales, karakia

and the ancient pathways of the


Settling here in this new land

their knowledge settled

with them.

Their pūrākau handed down

to us, are now woven in

our bones.

Poem <Little One> by Kiri Piahana-Wong

Kiri Piahana-Wong (Ngāti Ranginui) also has Chinese and Pākehā (English) ancestry. She is a poet and editor, and is the publisher at Anahera Press. Her poems have appeared in over forty journals and anthologies. Kiri lives in Auckland with her family.

This is an excerpt of her poem, “Little One,” which is dedicated to her son, Joseph Piahana Sellwood, age 5 months:

My little one, swimming in deep tides

Your origins woven into your being

Your blood and your bones

Your ngākau and your wairua

Little one, little one, resting on clouds

Standing on this ground, that belongs to you

Your tūpuna, from all over the earth

Are your foundation as the roots of mountains

That was two special recordings by our New Zealand collaborators, Teoti and Kiri. Now, let us listen to an excerpt from a musical track titled “Recollecting Childhood in the Fields,” performed and recorded by Paiwan artist Pairang Pavavaljung.

Song <Recollecting Childhood in the Fields> by Pairang Pavavalung

Pairang Pavavaljung is a celebrated Taiwanese indigenous artist from Taiwan. His title pulima — “a person with many fingers” — suggests that his capable hands have passed on many stories and traditions. In 2011, he was recognized as a National Living Treasure of Taiwan (人間國寶) for his contributions in passing on the oral and nose flute music tradition of the Paiwan people.

The 1:45 min excerpt featured in this podcast is taken from “si-kai-vavuavua/在田園回首年少時 Recollecting Childhood in the Fields,” a track recorded by Pairang Pavavaljung as part of his 2011 album, “傳唱愛戀的兄弟 (Brothers who sing of love and longing).”

[Act III: The Bond]

<大社部落老人家演唱 — 郭悅製作>

The Austronesian languages are one of the world’s largest linguistic families, encompassing over 1,200 unique languages that are still being spoken by 400 million souls. With Taiwan as the northmost point, their geographical distribution stretches southward to New Zealand, eastward to Easter Island off the Peruvian coast, and out west to Madagascar bordering East Africa. This covers all of the Pacific and a hefty one-third of the Indian Ocean. (Tsang)

This history of interconnectivity, including shared experiences as victims of resource appropriation, as well as assimilationist cultural policies, has given rise to a global indigenous rights movement — a desire to finish the unfinished project of decolonization. (Friedman)

Ongoing exchanges among Austronesian communities, including contemporary collaboration in the arts such as “ORA NUI4,” also mark a fresh wave of blossoming conversations that may pave the way for a brighter future — one that preserves our most precious cultural and linguistic assets, while honoring our relationship with each other. For we are all connected by the vast blue continent that still captures the human imagination today.

Podcast Credits

This episode was written, narrated, and produced by Min Chao

Special thanks to our ORA NUI4 collaborators, editor Su Shin and poets Teoti Jardine and Kiri Piahana-Wong, and the Pavavaljung family for providing their creative works.

Production Coordination by Trevor Liu

Executive Produced by Ghost Island Media

Special thanks to Blue for providing Yeti Microphone and Futureward for the recording room.

This podcast episode wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Taiwanese startup Ghost Island Media and the generosity of the creative team and artists brought together by “Ora Nui,” a Māori literary journal that dedicated its 4th edition to an amazing collection of writings and artworks by the Indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Taiwan. The resulting collaboration is a rich offering of short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, essays, and visual art from more than 50 contributors.

According to the widely accepted Austronesian Migration Theory, the Māori people of New Zealand descend from the Indigenous tribes of Taiwan, whose ocean-going sailing technologies meant they were able to migrate widely. As a result of this movement of people, New Zealand and Taiwan share genealogical, linguistic, and cultural connections.

ORA NUI4 南島誌 (New Zealand & Taiwan Special Edition)

Publishers: Bookman Books (書林) and Oranui Press


Order: https://www.bookman.com.tw/BookDetail.aspx?bokId=10018279

For more podcasts from Taiwan: https://ghostisland.media/

Research Notes

Chung, Kuo-Fang. “A holistic picture of Austronesian migrations revealed by phylogeography of Pacific paper mulberry.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), vol. 112, no. 44, 2015, pp. 13537–13542. NPAS, https://www.pnas.org/content/112/44/13537 . Accessed 3 2 2021.

Friedman, Kerim. “New Bloom Talk — What it Means to be “Indigenous” in Taiwan.” Twitter, 2021, https://twitter.com/kerim/status/1354198297146089473 . Accessed 3 2 2021.

Tsang, Cheng-hwa. “Once Again on the Austronesian Origin and Dispersal.” Journal of Austronesian Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, 2012, pp. 87–119. The Journal of Austronesian Studies, https://www.nmp.gov.tw/en/content_168.html . Accessed 3 2 2021.

Recommended Readings

What Lapita pottery can tell us about the stories of Austronesian expansion (Scarlett Chiu, Journal of Austronesian Studies)

Austronesian Migrations and Developments in Micronesia (Mike T. Carson, Journal of Austronesian Studies)

Ancient jades map 3,000 years of prehistoric exchange in Southeast Asia (Multiple authors, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

Austronesian Linkage At The Intersections Of Pacific Cultures (Lin Fang-Chen, ROC Chinese Association of Museums)

ORA NUI4 南島誌 (New Zealand & Taiwan Special Edition)

Podcast cover features a public domain image with the description: “Lalung, Formosa [Taiwan]. Photograph, 1981, from a negative by John Thomson, 1871.” Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.